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Assignment # 5

Major World Religions

Dua Fatima

Q: Is spirituality possible without Religion?

It depends on our definition of spirituality and religion. Values are required to be

genuine in any spiritual path or religious path. In the yoga system there
are yamas and niyamas which are based on our values, on our ethics, on our
morality, because we can’t truly build our spiritual experience unless we have
those values. When we see a religion or spirituality which are, when we don’t see
those values in it, we often turn away from that religion or spirituality, whatever
we may call it. So those values are necessary.

The universal character of anyone on any religious or spiritual path-if they are
really doing it right, in a deep meaningful way is that they are going to have
common characters and values that are universal: compassion, honesty, self-
control, generosity, wisdom, and insight. Whether one is a Christian or a Muslim
or a Jew or a Hindu or whatever, these are the common values we find in the
scriptures and in the lives of the saints. The realized person or saint could be a
mother with three children, or a monk who is traveling around and preaching.

Our actual spiritual identity beyond birth and death, a path that brings us to that
internal ecstatic love, love for God and all beings, is within us. The values we live
by- without that connection – don’t bring us to the same depth beyond birth and
death as a deep spiritual path does.

In my view religion automatically implies believing in something that you do not

yet know it is true or not. Spirituality is you are constantly seeking what is there
and you do this by turning inward to know yourself. Because we are a creation of
this universe, if we truly know ourselves, we will also know the universe. We will
know it by experience and this is why there is yoga and meditation.

You need to remove all the layers of beliefs and certainties that you have about life
and the world that you have gathered and identified with along the years. Because
most of the things we know, we know because other told us to and we had no
choice but to believe it. We feel good when we are certain about something and we
protect that by blindly believing it. It is also socially relevant to believe things that
other believe because we feel we are not alone or feel like we have our own team
of people like us. And that is a comforting thought to be part of a creed that we can
relate to.

If you consider religion a sectarian concept of spirituality, then yes, it could be a

disturbance. But true religion is that essential spirituality that brings our
compassion to a deep place, to the body, to the mind and also to the true self within
others. One can have a value based moral life without the concept of true religion
or true spirituality: be a good person, be more peaceful, be more pious, and
everything else, But to actually reach that depth of our souls, to be instruments of
that compassion, and to realize ourselves beyond the mortality of these vulnerable
little bodies and minds of ours, for that we need a deep spiritual path.

So yes, we could be very good people, and we can make a difference. But you
know, if we need to make that transcendental connection, it is important that we
have what you may call religion- but without the sectarian conception. Essence of
all religions is spirituality. There is no harm in belonging to a particular religion
but we must go beyond religion and become spiritual. Religion is sectarian
whereas spirituality is universal. You can be spiritual even without belonging to
any particular religion and even without observing the external rites and rituals of a
particular religion. You can liberate yourself through independent self-enquiry or
by approaching a realized spiritual master to follow a spiritual path. Initially you
may need external help from likeminded people and search here and there, but
ultimately spiritual journey is an independent journey in its advanced stage, where
you are your own friend, philosopher and guide.